Friday, October 24, 2008
Phillies upset about World Series introductions
By Amy K. Nelson ESPN.com
PHILADELPHIA -- It was just a few minutes before the Phillies were set to take the field for Game 1 of the World Series. Jimmy Rollins was sitting next to 40-year-old Matt Stairs, who was playing in the Fall Classic for the first time in his 16-year major league career and was looking forward to living out his dream when his name would be announced in front of the crowd.
It was then when a Phillies PR representative came into the clubhouse and informed the team that only the starting players would be announced on the field and on national television. That meant no clubhouse staff, no coaches and no Matt Stairs. He, along with 45-year-old Jamie Moyer, had waited their entire lives for this moment, and then it was gone. All non-starters were allowed to walk out onto the field, but they were never publicly acknowledged -- not to the TV audience, not even to the crowd.
"It's disappointing and some guys were extremely mad about it," Stairs said early Friday evening after the team's workout at Citizens Bank Park. "I think it's bootleg when you have the World Series and guys are jogging out to the line and they don't take the extra five minutes to introduce the players."
Rollins -- the Phillies' union representative and most tenured member of the team -- felt awful as he spoke with Stairs about the disappointment, and some of his teammates felt angry.
"As far as each player being announced, it should be," Rollins said. "You worked this hard all year long and you're the last two teams left.
"I thought it was kind of cheap those guys didn't get the chance to get recognized. It took 25 players to get here, and each one of them should have been recognized. Bottom line."
The Phillies are trying to do something about it, saying that Fox Television asked baseball to forgo the tradition. The Phillies, who are set to open Game 3 of this World Series at home on Saturday night, have asked their union to petition Major League Baseball on their behalf.
"They kind of shortchanged us," closer Brad Lidge said.
After a few players approached reliever Ryan Madson before the team's workout on Friday and asked him if he could do something, Madson -- the team's alternate player rep -- called his lawyer, who is friendly with Michael Weiner, lead counsel for the MLBPA. As of 6 p.m. Friday night, Madson hadn't heard back yet, but had planned to try and affect some sort of change.
Weiner said he had not received any calls from players, but added that he plans on speaking to players on Saturday to see if they can work things out.
"It's kind of weird that guys that played 20 years -- you get called out for Little League all-stars when you're 12 years old -- and we're on the biggest stage in the world, and they didn't do it for some reason," Madson said.
Fox Sports spokesman Dan Bell said that since the 2004 World Series Fox has only broadcast the starting lineups. He said it was a joint decision between Major League Baseball and the network to try and get to the first pitch faster during the broadcast.
But that isn't the issue for the players, who said they had no problem if Fox wanted to broadcast the starting lineups, but that this was the first year in which the reserves and coaches weren't announced to the ballpark. Bell said that there have been no conversations on excluding the rest of the announcements.
"We have no problem with the PA announcer announcing the training staff and the reserves of each respective team while we're in commercial break," Bell added. "That's strictly up to Major League Baseball and to work that out with the Phillies."
Calls to Major League Baseball were not returned.
The Rays' reserves and coaches also were not announced. But their player rep, Evan Longoria, said he was unaware of any displeasure about the slight. Scott Kazmir also said he wasn't aware of any players discussing it, but did agree that both teams should be introduced in the first home game of the series, which is normally what happens.
"I think they deserve it, and we deserve it," Stairs said. "I feel just as bad for the Tampa players because it's the first time in their franchise history they go to the World Series and they don't get introduced?
"This should be a big issue."
And while it is, most of the players also said that their main priority and focus was on winning Game 3. Whether they'll all be announced before it remains to be seen.
Amy K. Nelson is a staff writer for ESPN.com.